I glance down at my outfit. I’d decided to be myself, and that means jeans—old and faded with a rip in one knee—a t-shirt, and bare feet. I scrubbed my face free of makeup after work, threw my hair up in a ponytail, and got busy putting my lasagna together. I told Declan this would be casual, and I’m dying to see the man in perhaps a pair of jeans, too. While he fills out a designer suit in the yummiest of ways, I bet jeans were built for a man such as him.
There’s a knock on the door.
Seven PM on the dot.
I blow a breath out—nerves and excitement—and rush into the living room and to the front door.
I swing it open, taking in the man on my front porch. He’s in a dark suit, designer dress shirt, and a silk tie. In his hand, he holds a white plastic bag that looks like takeout.
“You’re dressed nice,” I accuse, my greeting causing him to blink in surprise.
“But I brought dessert… from Flemings,” he cajoles, holding the bag up. “Cheesecake. You know they make the best.”
I don’t know that since I can’t afford to eat at Flemings, but I’m stuck on the disappointment of him not being dressed down. “We agreed this was casual. My home is all about jeans. Even sweatpants. And yet, here you are, dressed all fancy. Declan, I’m not a fancy person. I mean, look at me… This is who I am and how I like things.”
Somewhere during my rant, Declan’s lips start to curve up.
When I’m done, I exhale a long breath. He laughs. “My apologies. I’d intended to change into something more casual, but my meeting ran late. I didn’t have time, especially since I wanted to grab a cheesecake from Flemings.”
My cheeks warm. I realize how ridiculous I’d just sounded, but I’m touched he felt picking up a dessert for us was worth such an effort.
I sweep my arm to indicate he should come in. “I’m sorry. I was just fantasizing about you in jeans,” I mutter in a shameless admission.
“Oh really,” he drawls with great interest. “What exactly would me in jeans do to you?”
“You’ll just have to wear them some time to find out,” I reply smartly, nabbing the bag. “Welcome to my humble abode.”
I lead Declan into the kitchen, placing the bag in the fridge.
“Cute kitchen,” he remarks as he takes off his suit jacket, then sets it over the back of one of the chairs.
“It’s a bit dated,” I remark as I move to the stove. “But the yellow is cheery.”
Immediately, I feel him at my back, his hands at my hips and the warmth of him pressing into my back. His lips come to my neck, and he kisses me there. “Smells delicious.”
“The lasagna?” I murmur in a daze, the feel of his lips causing my body to flush with arousal.
“Among other things,” he replies softly, leaning around to press his lips against mine.
When he pulls back, he smiles. “What can I do to help?”
I blink to shake the spell this man so easily puts over me. “Um… you can pour the wine while I dish out the lasagna.”
“On it,” he replies, and I grab an oven mitt to pull the bread out.
We work in quick but companionable silence. I put the plates together to bring to the table, and Declan pours wine into my regular tumbler glasses without even a word as to how uncouth it is.
When we sit at the table, Declan’s eyes are drawn not to the food or even to me, but to a tiny ceramic vase in the middle where I put a silk Gerber daisy. His smile is warm and unlike any I’ve seen before.
He looks up. “That’s a really nice touch.”
And he means it. It’s a crappy silk flower in a two-dollar vase in my seventies-styled yellow kitchen, and he’s charmed by it.
“Thank you,” I reply softly.
He holds up his tumbler of wine, and I do the same as he toasts me. “To a beautiful woman and a beautiful meal. Thank you for having me in your home.”
Oh, God. Still so much formality in him, and I know he can’t help it. It’s probably how he’d thank anyone for a dinner invitation, but I can tell by the timbre of his voice he’s actually into this.
To who I am.
It’s the first time I think… maybe we really can have something together.
We eat and talk. Sometimes about work, but that’s only inevitable. We’ve been continuing with Declan’s plans to build a sex club-themed resort.
I’m surprised when he asks, “You said you were married before? What was the deal there?”
I chew my bite of cheesy lasagna. When I swallow, I say, “I’ve been divorced about a year now. My husband left me for another man.”